As I said yesterday, I thought, when I first planned this challenge, that the runs would get harder as the days went by. But, not a bit of it! Turns out I'm feeling stronger every day. So much so that today I ran 11k instead of just the 10. Not only that, I was feeling so good that I thought I would increase the pace a bit. So I completed the extra 1k (55 laps) in 8 minutes 49 seconds - whereas the average time for 55 laps during today's 10k was 9.33 (1:33.05). This used to happen when I was doing my training. I always felt able to increase my pace in the last 50 or so laps. Moreover, when I've finished whatever distance I'd set myself, I always felt I could do more. This is now becoming apparent in my 100k efforts.
So, 51k down, 49k to go. (But will I content myself with just the 100k? Watch this space!)
I hinted yesterday that I'd say more about my exercise regime. Ever since I saw the BBC Horizon programme on HIIT, I've tried to incorporate some into my routine. Prior to starting my challenge, I used to do running on the spot - 20 seconds flat out, 10 seconds rest, x 6. But only spasmodically. What I did stick to, and have been doing it regularly for the past 32 months are press ups. I challenged myself, at the age of 80, to do 1 million press ups by my 90th, and I've been doing 10,000 a month - my total now is 326,000, and, at this rate, I should complete the 1 million before I turn 89. And I've also got a 9kg kettlebell that I swing around - every 5 days or so. I take the view that my health is my responsibility - and I take it seriously.
Day 6: Friday 26th June.
I wasn't expecting to run this morning, anticipating rain overnight, but when I woke up at around 7.30, the sun was shining - and the track was dry. But, no time for any heroics today since I had a Zoom meeting at 10, discussing veganism! So I went straight out, without my usual beetroot juice. And it didn't seem to matter, since I had a comfortable run, finishing in 1:30.40. These morning runs feel like the new normal - at one time I thought to myself, 'There's nowhere else I'd rather be.' What am I going to do when this is all over?
I'm definitely feeling stronger and fitter, so tomorrow I can choose, either to push for a faster time, or run a bit further. We'll see.
Rain is forecast overnight, so I've got some protection set out again for the track. Might have to run in the afternoon, which will be a bit strange.
Day 7: Saturday 27th June. 7 days down and 3 to go.
Showery day, today. Checked the forecast and decided 11.30 would be a good time to start, so I downed a shot of beetroot juice at 9.30. And I did indeed start out as planned. However, with only 251 laps completed (out of 550), down came the rain - with a vengeance. I got soaked as I scrambled around pulling the covers over - but I went for my iPhone first, which is my timer, and also plays my music. I checked my phone when I got inside, and found the timer reset to zero - so I have no idea how I had been doing. I had been running freely, so it would have been a good time.
The rain only lasted about 20 minutes, giving me time to change my clothes. When I began again, I initially just intended to finish the 10k I'd started earlier, but...I thought, I've no idea where I was time-wise, why don't I just go on and do a 10k from here? And that was the plan right up until it threatened with rain again, when I had got to lap 526. This, plus the 251 from earlier, gave me a total of 777 laps for the day, which I'm going to call 14k. Along with the 61k I'd already recorded for my challenge, that gives me a very satisfying 75k in 7 days - with 3 more days left in June.
Day 8: Sunday 28th June. 8 down and only 2 to go.
Sunny and cloudy, this morning - quite a bit chillier, as well, but, good conditions for a run. So I was up at 6.30, quaffed a shot of beetroot juice - and waited an hour before I set off. I was on my favourite, anti-clockwise, circuit, and I had a good run. When I was training for this, I often threw in a couple of fast laps - sort of mini-fartlekking - every now and again, or I'd often run the concrete path part of my track a little bit faster. In fact, when I'm on the anti-clockwise run, earlier in my challenge, I had to stop myself from belting up this part of the circuit. But today, to start with, for sure, and at certain periods during my run, I let myself go for a few laps. So I finished in a decent time - just 2 minutes under evens. And, as ever, I always feel as if I could continue. I didn't today, since my family are concerned I'm going to do myself an injury if I do too much.
So, 85k down, and two days to go. I'm really enjoying this. Oh, and I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I have a friend in Minnesota, who is tracking my runs, and doing a 10k every day, just as I'm doing. He told me this morning I'd inspired him to think about doing a marathon in the fall!
Day 9: Monday 29th June - the penultimate day, and another 12k in the bank. Total, 97k in 9 days.
Early start again, and I prepared as I usually do, starting off about 7.45am. Very chilly today, so I ran the first 200 or so laps wearing my fleece. Even so, good conditions for running - and I didn't have to mop my brow even once - literally not breaking into a sweat! I had decided I would extend the run by another 2 kilometres, today, so I took it easy - but even so I was surprised to find I was over 4 minutes behind even time at the 10k mark. Maybe because it was cold, and I was running in my least favourite direction, I'm not sure. I swapped directions when I started the 2k - and did the extra 110 laps in a much faster time. Paradoxically, as I progressed towards my target of 110 laps, the running got easier, so, by the time I finished I was really going well. Respective times were: Average of 9 minutes 40 seconds a kilometre, during the 10k; versus 8 minutes 52 during the 2k.
Day 10: Tuesday 30th June. This is it! The denouement! The finale! The climax! Finally, I have reached the target of 110k - just 93 days after starting my running career. I celebrated by having a cup of cocoa with two Medjool dates and a banana. But tonight, I may let myself go and properly celebrate with a bottle of real ale - or maybe two! Before I give my final update, I'd like to thank my darling wife for her amazing forbearance - both for my disappearing for long periods - and for making a mess of the back lawn!
Lots of rain in the forecast for today, but last night I thought I identified a window between 5.00am (first light) and 7. So I rose at 5 and was out on the circuit by 5.20. It was dry for about the first hour - when at lap 365, about 6.5k in, it began to rain. I ignored it at first, but it got a bit heavier, so I stopped and covered up the track to prevent it getting muddy. However, it stopped after about ten minutes, so I cleared away all the covers and started again. It was dry for the next fifteen minutes or so, then the rain returned - but this time I kept going, realising that the state of the track would no longer matter after today. The rain was only light, so it was no real hardship to continue - knowing that if I did stop, I'd have to do it all again, later today. I completed the first 10k in my slowest time yet - 1:40.26, which was not surprising, I guess. I went straight into the final 3k, which took me another 28.20, and it was raining pretty much all the time. However, it wasn't cold, and I felt in no discomfort.
So, my great adventure is over! 93 days since I first donned a pair of running shoes (TBH, an old pair of trainers I'd had for donkey's years!), I had just run 110k - over 66 miles - in ten days!
I had tried running, over 40 years ago, but my knees became so painful I had to give up after about 6 weeks. This time, apart from a slight stiffness if I sat too long after my first few 10k runs - which no longer happens - I have felt not the slightest muscle ache, pain or twinge - nothing! TBH, I'm amazed. I attribute this to my whole food, plant-based nutrition. I even, throughout these last ten days, gave up all cakes, biscuits, sweets, etc, and tried to eat as healthily as I could (the two bars of Green and Black's dark chocolate I received for Father's Day - thanks, Emma - don't count, do they?).
So, what now? In my speech, given at the conclusion of the 2019 Bristol Animal Rights March, I referred to my 1 million press up challenge (elsewhere on this blog), jokingly saying that, when I'd completed it - possibly in 2025/6 - I might turn my attention to marathon running. Well now, marathon running is, not exactly in my comfort zone yet, but I could certainly envisage myself attempting a half marathon at some point. Whereas, just 93 days ago, this would not have featured on my horizon in any way, shape or form.
I began running, a couple of weeks into lockdown, with the intention of coming out of it with a new skill. That was my goal - I just wanted to put the time to good use. But I made such good progress that, after a little over 3 weeks, I ran my first 5k, after 8 weeks, my first 10k. It was then that I suggested to Dean Farm that I would like to run do a 10k for them as a fundraiser. But my progress continued to be so rapid that I very quickly realised that I would be capable of much more than that, so I upped the challenge to 100k over ten days, and, as you've seen, I was able to increase that to 110k.
So my question to you, dear reader, is: What could you be capable of, if you just put your mind to it?
Reflections 1 - facts and figures:
93 days from start to finish
254km (158 miles) covered in training, or 13970 laps
110km (68 miles) doing the challenge, or 6050 laps
364km (226 miles) in total - 20030 laps
39 hours, approx time spent in training
17 hours, approx time spent in the challenge
56 hours in total
Couch to 110k in 3 months - not bad, eh?
Monday 6th July.
Today I ran round 880 laps of my garden - the 10 miles I've been promising myself since I began running exactly 100 days ago - and 3k beyond my previous longest run. I took it easy to begin with, doing the first 550 laps - 10k - in an average of 10.9 seconds a lap, then decided, since I was feeling pretty good, to up the pace a little. So my time for the last 330 laps averaged 10.7 seconds a lap. However, with the last 100 or so laps to go, my thighs started to feel very heavy, so I slowed back down to a bit of a plod. Encouragingly, after about another 50 or so laps I started to rediscover some spring in my step, but, not wishing to push my luck, I maintained my plodding gait until, 5 laps from the end, I managed to put in a (slowish) sprint finish. I could have gone on, I guess, but I think I'd just about reached my limit. I needed the loo, but, when I came in, I didn't bound upstairs to the toilet as I generally do, since my legs were very achy - first real muscle ache I've experienced. But I felt very satisfied - shattered, but happy!